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Blizzcon 2008 Wrap-Up 173

This year's Blizzcon saw 15,000 gamers descend from 27 different countries to take part in two days of discussions, tournaments, and sneak peaks at upcoming releases. Several big announcements were scattered among a raft of new details about Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 and Wrath of the Lich King. The new information went a long way toward drumming up interest for what already appear to be worthy successors to old favorites. Read on for more.

As the convention prepared to get underway Friday morning, people showed up early to get a decent spot in line. When we arrived at about 9:30, we walked for a good 15 minutes to track down the actual end of the line. When we reached the spot where we thought it would be, we instead found a large parking lot filled with a sea of people. The line snaked back and forth across the lot, and it grew ever larger as we watched. Periodic cries of "For the Horde!" were heard, with a resulting roar from the crowd. Inflatable World of Warcraft themed beach balls from the Blizzcon Goody Bag were sent flying around to relieve boredom (at which point we found that WoW players aren't so good at keeping beach balls in the air). Some convention-goers walked around in elaborate costumes, pausing frequently to pose for pictures. Once everyone got inside and seated for the opening ceremony, Blizzard President Mike Morhaime came to the stage and welcomed us to the convention. It wasn't long before he got to the day's first big news — the unveiling of Diablo 3's third class, the Wizard. We were shown a cinematic for the new class, as well as one for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. They were particularly impressive on huge screens with the volume high enough to shake the walls. Shortly thereafter, we were turned loose to partake of all the presentations and entertainment Blizzcon had to offer.

Diablo 3:

In designing the Wizard, the Diablo 3 developers made a conscious decision to focus on what they call "high magic." They said the Wizard was designed with a brash and ambitious personality in mind; she would not choose the safe, easy, or common way to do things. So, when they were looking at possibilities for the first spell a player would use, the designers chose to avoid something like a fireball or frostbolt. Rather than having an elemental attack, they wanted a more "pure" magic attack. As a result, they chose Magic Missile. They explained that Magic Missile was easy to customize and modify; it would make more sense for things like homing missiles, or launching more than one at a time. Another important spell in that regard was Arcane Orb. Functionally, it appeared somewhat similar to Diablo 2's Frozen Orb, but despite being further down the "Arcane" talent tree than Magic Missile, it defined the look and the type of damage for that tree. The Arcane tree has several interesting spells, including Slow Time, which drops a giant permeable orb on the ground which, as the name suggests, slows time within it. Projectiles and enemies inside the orb become very easy to dodge and avoid. The developers said it was originally Stop Time, but that created difficulties for multiplayer balance. Disintegrate is another great new spell within the tree, dubbed a "face melter" by the designers. It launches a continuous beam of energy that you can sweep around the room at your leisure. The longer it hits an enemy, the more damage it does per second, and it has quite a range. Some familiar spells will be returning from Diablo 2, such as Charged Bolt and Teleport. The Blizzard spell will be back as well, which the developers say they paid particular attention to, given that it shares a name with their company. It will be part of the "Storm" skill tree, along with Frost Nova and Electrocute (the new Chain Lightning). The theme for that tree is control of the weather, which was chosen because it "feels epic." The last tree is "Conjure," and its focus is the creation of tools. Hydra is returning as a Conjure skill, and you can make weapons with which to smite your enemies. Shacknews has a look at each of the actual trees and the skills within.

The skill system for Diablo 3 went through a lengthy design process, and the developers admit that it's not quite finished. Most importantly, they will be implementing the ability to respec, the lack of which was one of Diablo 2's biggest weaknesses. They wanted players to not worry about misplacing points. In Diablo 2, it was common to hold onto skill points as a character leveled up, thus decreasing the actual reward for leveling. They wanted to encourage players to get the rewards and immediately enjoy them. Blizzard went on to show us about a half-dozen experimental implementations of the skill system, and how they weighed the pros and cons of the methods used in the previous Diablo games and World of Warcraft. They tried out a radial skill tree, skill "wheels," skill cards (dropped by monsters, which you could combine in different ways to acquire particular abilities), and even a humorous "horadric cube" three-dimensional skill tree. As they tested all of those, they found their design philosophy of "different but worse isn't better; better is better" coming into play, and went back to what worked. The system they currently use is an evolution of Diablo 2's skill trees. There are a few major differences. First, in order to move down to a more powerful tier, you need to spend a certain number of points in the previous tiers. To get Hydra, a 4th-tier Conjure talent, you need to spend at least 15 points in the Conjure tree. Second, the developers decided that not all skills needed huge point investments. They didn't want players dumping 20 points in one skill, moving to another, and doing the same. As as result, activated abilities now tend to take just one point to acquire. Passive skills, such as a percentage-based damage increase, have room for many points, and will be the primary method of advancing to further tiers. The goal was for players to have six activated abilities in common use; they felt that Diablo 2 forced players to focus on just two or three, to the detriment of the gameplay experience.

The Rune system also received a complete redesign. Instead of socketing runes into gear, you'll use them to modify your skills. Each skill can be affected by one rune at a time (which seems to preclude the possibility of runewords), and each rune affects a skill differently. The goal for this was to diversify gameplay even further. Two players with the same class and spec can still use abilities that look and behave quite differently depending on their rune selection. The runes are replaceable, and they will have tiers of power, and corresponding drop rates. The developers say it will change your gameplay as you level, and encourage you to experiment with different runes. They also showed us several examples of how the runes work. First was Teleport. It's primarily a defensive spell; you use it to get away from enemies quickly. However, if you put a Striking rune on Teleport, it will deal damage where you land, effectively making it an offensive spell. Another rune caused what they likened to a "transporter malfunction," spraying destructive energy around the Wizard. Another example was Skull of Flame, a Witchdoctor ability. Normally, the spell is sort of like tossing a grenade; it hits an enemy and explodes, and that's the (very entertaining) end of it. With the Multistrike rune, it will hit enemies, explode, and bounce to the next enemy. With a Power rune, it will leave a small pool of fire where it explodes. The last example was Electrocute. A Multistrike rune will increase the number of jumps, and a Lethality rune will cause targets to explode when they are hit. All in all, it looks extremely fun, and quite cool.

Another thing the developers wanted to do in Diablo 3 was to make everything more "visceral," to give it an exciting visual impact that would keep the player interested in watching everything that goes on. The Wizard was designed as a "light show," with lightning, huge glowing tornadoes, and destructive beams of energy. Witchdoctors use more indirect magic. Instead of spraying fire, they'll summon a horde of bats, set them on fire, and funnel them at an enemy. Similarly, instead of creating a Wall of Fire, the developers took it another step toward crazy and gave Witchdoctors Zombie Wall, which is exactly what it sounds like. In order to keep Barbarians interesting, they'll be able to call on the power of The Ancients for certain special attacks. Another area of particular focus was death animations. Since players will be wading through a sea of monsters, Blizzard wanted to keep the monster deaths from becoming stale or part of the background. So, Diablo 3 will feature a variety of death scenes for each monster. Some deaths will be dependent on damage; the more you do, the messier things get. You'll also see what are called "critical deaths" that tend to feature explosions. Certain skills will have their own death animations; acid will melt an enemy, and Disintegrate will do just that. Rare and special monsters will have interesting animations with extra detail. There is also the possibility for unique player deaths from bosses.

A variety of other features were discussed, such as the inventory system. Gone is the grid system of Diablo 2. Weapons and armor now seem to take up a uniform amount of space, and the amount of total space was increased. What's more, there are now bag slots, and bags which drop off monsters. Playing through the demo level, I quickly acquired three bags which gave me an extra slot apiece. Larger bags will drop in later levels. Also, items have a color-coded background, so it's easy to see which are junk, which are rare, set pieces, etc. A question mark is visible over items that have yet to be identified. The belt system has been replaced by an action bar similar but much smaller than the one in World of Warcraft. It has room for several skills and potions. Potions themselves are much less common; instead, many monsters drop health orbs that will refill your red orb between fights. The developers wanted potions to be used in emergencies, not for nigh-invincibility throughout the game. They say the change opens up more avenues for challenging the player without simply dumping a ton of damage on him. They felt that escape was too easy in Diablo 2. You needn't worry that this change will result in annoyingly long corpse runs, however. The new checkpoint system goes a long way toward making recovery easier. As you go through dungeons and the outside world, you'll frequently come across checkpoints that mark your progress. When you die, you'll respawn at the nearest checkpoint. This keeps the corpse run short and solves the problem of having a hundred monsters waiting for you after you fled up a flight of stairs. Another player-friendly change will be the "toning down" of elemental resistances and immunities. They won't be gone, but they won't be the same brick wall they often were for some classes in Diablo 2.

The difficulty system and the Act system will be very similar to those of Diablo 2. Maps will still be randomly generated with non-random elements. Blizzard was keen to point out the inclusion of scripted events in Diablo 3. The events will range from mini-cutscenes to actual events in which the player can participate, and they're included in levels randomly, so different play-throughs can give you different experiences. In the demo, one event was simply witnessing two NPCs come together and discuss some of the back story of the first quest. Others may involve escort quests and town invasions. And, if players want to ignore these events, they're welcome to. The goal was for the events to help bring the Diablo 3 world to life. Another way they're trying to do so is including more destructible elements of the environment. There are spots where you can knock down walls, chandeliers, and other objects. The best part is that knocking down a wall onto an enemy will deal significant damage. It's a fun progression from smashing barrels. Another addition is the inclusion of kill streaks and experience bonuses. Every so often while smashing through a group of monsters, you'll see text in the bottom right corner of your screen saying "23 Kills! New Record! 300 Bonus Exp!" It'll be interesting to see what else they do with it.

After looking at the game, playing it, and discussing it for two days, we're looking forward to it more than ever. It appears to be as much of an improvement over Diablo2 as Diablo 2 was over Diablo. They're also going out of their way to make multiplayer more appealing. While Diablo 3 won't support offline LAN parties (which, they say, was decision based on keeping the game secure), it will encourage more cooperative play over As we discussed earlier, players in the same game will see different drops, leading to less loot drama and more sharing. They've mentioned the possibility of doing something to monetize, but made very clear that they aren't ready to discuss pricing internally, much less publicly. And, they've said that they don't want Diablo 3 to be subscription based. As Rob Pardo stated, it would most likely involve extra services, as has been done for World of Warcraft. The concerns about the art direction were effectively laid to rest in my mind. The game looks great, and it stays true to previous themes.

Starcraft 2:

By now you've probably heard the biggest news about Starcraft 2 at Blizzcon: The game will be divided into a trilogy. When plotting out their ideas for the game, the developers found they had three stories to tell. As they fleshed the stories out, they realized that there was more content than they could reasonably fit in one game. They faced three options; delay the game significantly, cut vast portions of the story, or expand one game into three. Given their commitment to quality over all else, they chose the third option. The games will be divided by campaign: Terran: Wings of Liberty, Zerg: Heart of the Swarm, and Protoss: Legacy of the Void.

Part of the reason for the trilogy was that they wanted to build branching campaigns with multiple paths to an ending. Completing a mission at one planet may open up missions at several other planets. You'll be able to play the same campaign in different ways, but the designers were clear that you'd end in the same place. Each part of the trilogy will have definite ending; there won't be cliffhangers. They also wanted to develop deep story arcs with lots of dialogue and cinematics. Each game will have specially designed environments, maps, and mission hubs. With the increased number of missions, they put a great deal of effort into making them unique and interesting. Most of the missions will have their own "gimmick," and you'll see special units in the campaigns that you won't see in multiplayer. Speaking of which, the multiplayer will be fully developed and balanced for all three races from the start. Blizzard will be doing everything they can to foster competitive and cooperative gaming in Starcraft 2, assisted by the revamped

The Terran campaign will focus on Jim Raynor, a freedom fighter who has seen better times. Starcraft 2 takes places four years after the events of the original game, and it starts on Mar Sara, the same planet that kicked off Starcraft. We were shown a cinematic in which Raynor is approached by Tychus Findlay, the guy who suits up in the cinematic released last year when Starcraft 2 was announced. Findlay and Raynor have a history of fighting together, and Findlay has a business proposition for Raynor. The two characters interact inside a bar, which Blizzard has designed as an interactive environment for between missions. You're able to click on the characters for small cinematics which explain their back story. A jukebox in the corner will play different songs you choose. A television plays news reports, providing further information about missions. A bulletin board has Wanted posters and can contain optional missions players can take. Other environments like these also exist, and they're filled with nice little touches. When the characters end up on a ship later in the game, you can see they've taken the jukebox and nailed it to the ceiling, indispensable piece of hardware that it is. You're also able to look out the main viewscreen at whatever may be there.

The other big Starcraft 2 news was that Kerrigan would be returning as the focus on the Zerg campaign. A cinematic in which she is dimly seen through the fire and smoke of a Zerg invasion of Mar Sara drew a huge round of applause from the crowd. The first Terran mission has Raynor and Findlay holding out against the invasion long enough for Raynor's ship to come rescue him. As it turns out, he's doing better than it seemed. The Protoss campaign will involve Zeratul; another cinematic showed him fighting off hydralisks and briefly encountering Kerrigan. The developers said their intentions were to make the story deep and immersive, much more so than even Warcraft 3.

Running missions will earn you credits, which you can then use to upgrade your technology. You'll be able to customize your fighting force to suit whichever playstyle you like. For example, you can upgrade your bunkers to hold more marines if you like playing defensively. There will be a star map for mission selection; planets will glow when a missions is available there. Some will be from distress calls, and you can choose whether or not to answer them. There will even be some Easter egg missions. My time with the Starcraft 2 demo was brief, but the multiplayer map felt very complete, and very much like a new and improved version of Starcraft.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

There was a great deal of discussion about Wrath of the Lich King at Blizzcon, though little of it was new, thanks to the extensive coverage of the beta. A few interesting tidbits were announced, though, such as the fact that the expansion is largely done, and is already being sent to DVD production. At one of the Q&A sessions, Jeffrey Kaplan revealed that mounts would be able to swim after the first content patch. Also included in that patch will be a raid dungeon that hasn't been revealed yet. They also confirmed that the 3.02 patch to prepare for the expansion would be going live today. Patch notes are available at the World of Warcraft site. The last big bit of news was that a dual-spec system was coming at some point after the expansion goes live. Players will be able to swap between two specs in order to facilitate their participation in both PvE and PvP. Glyphs and action bars will most likely be tied to this swap system, so players don't need to spend time and money flipping between specs. A built-in gear swapping interface may also come about. Beyond that, they gave some in-depth previews of various dungeons and arenas, and explained their goals and reasoning for class and gameplay changes.

The PvP panel broke news that the new battleground, Strand of the Ancients, would increase the number of players per side to 15 (from 10), and feature more vehicles than previous iterations. It's a unique battleground in that each side is assigned either defense or offense at the beginning, and plays that side until the game ends. Attackers try to knock down the destructible walls of the fort to get inside. The developers also demonstrated the two new arenas. The Ring of Valor brings new gameplay elements to the arena; moving platforms that periodically interrupt line-of-sight, and fire that will deal damage to anyone who touches it. Teams also start off very close to each other, which facilitates faster battles and quick thinking. The Dalaran Sewer arena contains water spouts that will knock back anyone who touches them. They also spent time talking about Wintergrasp, the open PvP zone that has battles between Alliance and Horde every 2.5 hours, with the battles lasting 30-40 minutes. To prevent the most populous side from having an unfair advantage, a buff will be given to the faction with fewer players. Blizzard wants to diversify the options for PvP and take the focus off arenas. They also want to develop more and more PvP content and create some sort of mechanism for players to gain experience in battlegrounds.

The UI Panel had some interesting information as well. The very simple threat monitoring system is final as it stands in the beta. The developers don't want it to become too complicated for the average player, and mods already exist to monitor threat in greater detail. They've also made changes to threat generation by tanks in order to shift the focus from whether or not players should attack to how they should attack. Backpack size won't be changing, but mounts and certain currencies have been moved from the inventory to their own UI element. A focus frame will be added to the default UI.

The Raids and Dungeons panel took us through several Wrath of the Lich King instances. First was Halls of Lightning, a 5-man dungeon themed on the Titans. It exists within a vast space, though only a fraction of that space is explorable by players. Blizzard wanted to give the dungeons an epic feel. Similarly, they provide views of the outside in order to make the instance seem integrated with the rest of the game world. The instance contains unique art, including statues made of constellations and boss models that the developers had to restrain themselves from re-using elsewhere. The last boss has cinematics before and after the fight. They moved on to Ahn'Kahet, an underground city that's influenced by the Old Gods. They said the city was intended to be what Naxxramas was based on in the game's lore, and the artistic style reflects that. It's another huge, epic space, and the end boss is a Faceless One. He makes use of newly developed phasing technology that allows players to fight clones of their own groupmates. When those are defeated, the player is shunted into another player's phase to help with that player's clones.

The developers emphasized how pleased they were with the decision to include 10-man and 25-man versions of each raid instance. They showed us an introductory-level raid called Chamber of the Aspects, which they said was much better tuned than The Burning Crusade's introductory raids, Gruul's Lair and Magtheridon's Lair. Chamber of the Aspects contains a main boss, Sartharion, and three drake sub-bosses. The sub-bosses are easy fights on their own, and don't drop much in terms of loot. As an alternative to killing them, however, you can leave them alive when you fight Sartharion, and they will join in to fight against you. You can effectively choose your own difficulty by leaving zero, one, two, or all three drakes alive. The more drakes you leave alive when you kill Sartharion, the better loot drops you receive. The other raid they showed us was the Eye of Eternity, in which you fight Malygos, an aspect of magic. Since it's an iconic battle in Warcraft lore, they went all-out in designing the models, special effects, and phases of the fight. The raid will make use of vehicles, see the destructible building technology at work, and get some timely help from the Red Dragonflight. The Eye of Eternity is also the only raid that will require any sort of key or attunement. A drop from Sapphiron, the second to last boss in Naxxramas, will be required to start the Malygos fight, but only one person in the raid needs the item.

They went on to talk about itemization, and said the progression from dungeon to heroic to raid would be much smoother in Wrath of the Lich King than in previous versions of the game. Heroic dungeons will have their own unique itemization, and it will be a clear step up from regular dungeons. There will be two new versions of The Burning Crusade's Badge of Justice. Emblems of Heroism will drop from heroic dungeons and the 10-man version of Naxxramas. Emblems of Valor will drop from every other raid. The developers also told us that certain raid dungeon set pieces will be purchasable through Emblems. Gears sets will differ between the 10-man and 25-man versions of the dungeons, but they will count toward each other's set bonuses, similar to the way PvP sets work. They also mentioned that it's about time for another caster/healer legendary item, and that it would almost certainly come through a quest, rather than a random drop.

A few other interesting tidbits came out of the Raid panel; Deathwing is something they're "working on," and we will see him at some point. Raids won't be designed with the dual-spec system in mind. You may switch specs between fights, but you certainly won't be required to. There will definitely be a difficulty progression for raids, but we probably won't see anything as difficult as Sunwell. They want to keep thing challenging and fun. Bosses will drop more loot over all, and the Ashbringer story will continue.

The Class panel focused on the directions the developers wanted to go with each of the classes, the Death Knight in particular. They said they wanted to help the shortage of tanks by creating another class that could fill the role. Warriors, Paladins, and Druids also received some modifications to their tanking specs to make it more fun and less of a hassle. Another major goal was to get each talent tree for each class a specific playstyle, even if it was just another method of dealing damage. As a part of that, they revamped the buff and debuff system so give guilds more of an opportunity to bring the people they wanted rather than the people they needed to maximize their chance for success. Blizzard considered revamping the dispel system too — they aren't satisfied with the current implementation — but said they didn't want to introduce another huge set of changes at this time. In addition, they talked about their decision to unify several itemization stats in order to make it easier on some classes to switch roles, and to reduce the number of items required to support all possible specs.

Blizzard had plenty to talk about this year, and they made the most of their time in the spotlight. The demos for Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 looked excellent, and had the expected "Blizzard polish" even at this early stage of development. Blizzcon attendees were told that they would receive invites to the Starcraft 2 beta, although it hasn't reached that stage yet, and Diablo 3 is even further away. Wrath of the Lich King will be hitting store shelves in a month, though, and will undoubtedly further World of Warcraft's dominance of the MMO market. As you may recall, we asked you for interview questions for various Blizzard employees; stay tuned, their answers will be up soon.

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Blizzcon 2008 Wrap-Up

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  • by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:49PM (#25370847)

    I went to the previous BlizzCon and was sorely disappointed. This year the costumes were less hardcore (from the photos) leaving me with absolutely no regrets at missing this one. Blizzard used to throw some seriously good LAN Parties at UCI but their conventions are about the people and if you aren't there to meet up with others from your WoW Social Scene (ugh) there's not more than 8 hours of waiting in lines and 1 hour of interesting lecture and 1 hour of wandering around to be found. Most of that you can do WITHOUT the convention. Verdict: waste of time. YMMV based on how bad your "basement seeking behaviour" is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kwerle ( 39371 )

      I'd say that's a pretty good summary - except the costumes - which were really freakin' awesome.

      And I do enjoy watching the starcraft tourney matches. But I guess that falls heavily into the YMMV.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, attendees got a beta key for SC2, some miscellaneous crap, and a chance to play demos of D3 and SC2.

      You'd have to pretty crazy to pay $100 + airfare for that, unless you're already in the LA area and are a huge Blizzard fan.

    • by malkir ( 1031750 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:04PM (#25371045)
      No this years costumes were definitely up a notch from last year, this year the costumes were all made out of amazing materials. The Tyrael costume for instance didn't seem very impressive on stage, but up close in person you could see the whole thing was real armor - copper plated.

      I thought this years BlizzCon didn't have enough going on, last year there was a panel every hour - this years was every 3 hours.

      The WoWNerds were great because they just played Lich King all day and let us Diablo 3/Starcraft 2 fans play the game all day without waiting in much of a line.

      D3/Sc2 is AMAZING. [] / []
    • I had a lot of fun personally and I have been to every blizzcon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 )

      I dunno. I've never been to Blizzcon, but I have been to several other conventions, and attend DragonCon every year (for the least 5 years anyways). What I've consistently found is that you have to "know" a convention to have fun there. First year at any convention I always feel lost and it's just a bunch of walking around for nothing. After you get a feel though for where everything is (assuming same location each year), how things are paced, and what is REALLY going on (hint: check those programs/sche

  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:57PM (#25370947) Homepage Journal

    What I love about Blizzard is that they really take a lot of time examining what they did right and wrong with previous games, especially the evolution from Diablo 2 to 3. I'm also amazed that they have three big games in development at once, it seems like 10 years ago they only had enough people (or chose to have enough) to work on one big game at a time. Now we have two giant sequels and an expansion to one of the most popular PC games ever on their way. But somehow Blizzard still feels like Blizzard even after all this growth.

    • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:20PM (#25371243)

      I've seen a very different evolution with this latest round of titles.

      The evolution of greed.

      I don't know if it's Activision, WoW's success, or what, but I don't like this trend that I'm seeing:

      Diablo 3- Paid Downloadable Content

      Starcraft 2- 3 Separate boxes to buy

      WotLK- Paid character appearance enhancements

      I'll still buy them (not WotLK, stopped playing WoW when BC launched). Now that I am finished with college and have a good job, the cost is no big deal. But I stated playing Blizzard games many years go, sometime around the launch of Diablo I. Back then I saved my $5/week allowance to buy those games. Then I got a part time job, and bying the games was a little easier, but it still wasn't a lot of cash. I think Blizzard may alienate a decent segment of their audience with these decisions. What was wrong with the old model? Their games made a mint at regular price because they sell so many copies. Hell you can still buy the Starcraft and Diablo II battle chests at Wal-Mart.

      I just really hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

      • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:28PM (#25371355)

        Diablo 3- Paid Downloadable Content

        They said they're considering it. Not that it's coming. The idea could wind up being dismissed altogether, for all you know.

        Starcraft 2- 3 Separate boxes to buy

        If each of those games is a quality, full-length campaign (and from the info we got from the con, it sounds like that could well be the case), what the hell is the problem with that?

        WotLK- Paid character appearance enhancements IN-GAME GOLD. Not real money. Seriously, do you actually pay attention to these Blizzard games, or just hear little bits and pieces, and then get pissed about it?

        • by Nathanbp ( 599369 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:33PM (#25371429)

          WotLK- Paid character appearance enhancements

 IN-GAME GOLD. Not real money. Seriously, do you actually pay attention to these Blizzard games, or just hear little bits and pieces, and then get pissed about it?

          They are also considering paid character appearance changes (face style/skin color) for real money (see WoW Insider for details of when they said this).

          • by DerWulf ( 782458 )
            I fully approve of charging people, who are not able to press the correct button, money for fixing their mistakes. Appearance change, seriously? It's not as if you aren't able to level a new character on an other realm for free ...
          • by pod ( 1103 )

            The "real money" coming through TCG (the card game). There are already dozens of items in-game whose effect is purely cosmetic, that ultimately come from "real money", and no one bitches about them. If there are special hair styles that only come from codes from the cards, I don't see how that would be different.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:34PM (#25371437)

          "This year's Blizzcon saw 15,000 gamers descend from 27 different countries"

          Since when do people descend from their basements?

          Should have read "ascend"

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by genner ( 694963 )

            "This year's Blizzcon saw 15,000 gamers descend from 27 different countries"

            Since when do people descend from their basements?

            Should have read "ascend"

            Some of us live above our parents garage.

        • Diablo 3 DLC-Yes, it's not confirmed yet. The problem is they are thinking about additional revenue streams like this. IMHO, a slippery slope to getting you to pay for any and all extra content aside from bug fixes

          Starcraft 3-As long as they charge expansion prices for additional campaigns, I'll agree with you. Brood War added the same amount of mission content on the same enging, and cost less when it came out (but it did require the additional game).

          WotLK-Someone else beat me to this...WoWInsider has t

      • by dnoyeb ( 547705 )

        I bought the battle chest because IIRC, It came with warcraft. The original Warcraft didnt work well on windows95, but the version in battlechest did. So I have the DOS version and the battlenet version that works better on windows.

        I am in agreement. I did not buy the last warcraft installment. I don't know why but I was not motivated. My cousin even has it and I didnt borrow it. I did not do WoW either since I am an eve-online player and hear that eve is more 'adult' that WoW I guess.

        The rational for

      • by Fozzyuw ( 950608 )

        Starcraft 2- 3 Separate boxes to buy

        My first thought was "greed" as well. But I'll hold final judgment until I see what the MSRP is on each box. It sounds like they've created the entire game/balance/races already, but they're just doing 3 separate story lines. So, the only difference between the games will be maps and story, not game mechanics, units, etc.

        If it's $50-60 a game, I'll be pretty unhappy with that price. $30-40, I'd be ok with, assuming their typical Blizzard Quality(tm).

        Otherwise, I'd just shovel this into the Episodic Gami

        • by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:46PM (#25373419)

          I think they saw the sucess of the eposodic half life releases and went with that. You can shorten the time between releases and keep the genre fresh without the fans having to wait five years.

          The Valve folks have admitted that the half life episodes are basically HL3 when put together, and done like that for the reasons stated above. I have enjoyed playing the episodes as they come out, and for those who aren't playing them, you can be sure there will be a nicely priced special with all three episodes run back to back as a single game.

          With the HL2 episodes, each one is $20. It will be interesting to see what the Starcraft games end up costing. It sounds like the Starcraft games will be much broader than the short HL episodes, in that case they would be justified in charging more for each one. It doesn't matter how many games they put out, I will pay for a good game, as long as the price is relevant to the amount of gameplay you get out of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jabbrwokk ( 1015725 )

      Flame me if you want, but in my opinion Blizzard is evolving into Disney - they used to make great, polished and unique products, but now they just make polished-but-soulless sequels.

      For what it's worth, I've enjoyed Blizzard games since the days of Blackthorne and Lost Vikings. But I want something new, not yet another foray into the Warcraft or Starcraft or Diablo universes.

      I just can't get excited about any news from Blizzcon. However, thanks to the author for a comprehensive and informative report.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by genner ( 694963 )

        Flame me if you want, but in my opinion Blizzard is evolving into Disney - they used to make great, polished and unique products, but now they just make polished-but-soulless sequels. didn't like Dumbo 2?

        • The sequel so great it took 60 years to make? Yeah. I gave that one a miss.

          I'm still waiting for Sleeping Beauty 2: Back to Sleep" though.

          • by Macgrrl ( 762836 )

            I'm still waiting for Sleeping Beauty 2: Back to Sleep" though.

            Surely that should be "Sleeping Beauty: A short nap".

    • it seems like 10 years ago they only had enough people (or chose to have enough) to work on one big game at a time.

      Since the original Diablo, they've always had at least two teams: one at Blizzard North (these were people that made Diablo - they were folded into Blizzard) and Blizzard "south", which was the main team that did things like War2.

      At least since the pre-Brood War days they've actually had three teams: one at Blizzard North, two at the main Blizzard site. They may only announce a couple of games, but it's reasonably well-known in the Blizz community that there are "secret" projects being worked on that haven'

    • seems like 10 years ago they only had enough people (or chose to have enough) to work on one big game at a time.

      It probably doesn't hurt that, thanks to WoW, they have more money than Jesus. (That includes my $15 a month.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:59PM (#25370977)

    No LAN no THANKS!

    Keep the game secure, my ass. :-P No buy from me.

    • by techess ( 1322623 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:49PM (#25371631)

      Amen to that. Offline LAN parties are what sold me on the whole franchise to begin with. I got hooked at a WC LAN party and never looked back. I still regularly host LAN parties for WC3.

      So you spawn a few games for people who don't have the disk. What happens? They have a good time playing a game they don't own and THEY BUY IT! Plus the people who don't play at home tend to get smashed rather early which just encourages them to buy it.Luckily WC3 is still in stores so new people to the group don't have to look far to get their copy. I guess the company is going to be more Activision and less Blizzard.

    • No LAN no THANKS!...No buy from me.

      gg, Blizz. You've pissed off the caveman demographic.

    • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:26PM (#25373975) Journal

      Ditto. is fine and dandy, but the real fun of Diablo and Diablo II was always playing with friends and family in a smaller, more casual setting.

      The issue of security is bullshit. This is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to make sure that everyone purchases a copy of the game. It's almost as bad as Steam in not allowing you a home license to play with the kids!

      • I play only with friends on all the time.

        It's really easy. We have a standing game name and password. foo/foo.


        (Seriously though, we do just agree on a game name + password over IM. I don't see what the big deal is).

        • by Reapy ( 688651 )

          The big deal is you can't sit in a room with a router and play it with your friends. The big deal is if the internet is acting up, you can't play, even if you want to just play with your brother or something whos in the next room. That's what the big deal is, and it's epic bullshit.

  • LAN Party (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:05PM (#25371051)
    No LAN party option in D3? That was one of the best parts of D2. I don't want to leave it up to Blizzard's servers what patch I run.
  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:10PM (#25371103) Journal
    They said they wanted to help the shortage of tanks by creating another class that could fill the role. Hey Blizzard, got a question for you. Lets say a prot paladin reaches lvl70. He hasn't been raiding T6 yet - hell, he's not even raiding T4 yet. What the hell is he supposed to use for shoulders? There's a reason every bit of gear I had was purple other than my green shoulders "of defense" which I eventually only replaced because I did finally get a tier drop (t5, which wasn't great anyway). As a contrast, I had stopped playing my shadow priest, and started back up after a few months of not playing him. He was level 49. 3 weeks later I was wearing all purple at lvl70. How? I was able to make most of my own gear with tailoring. Blacksmithing, esp for armor, has been a complete joke for BC. Plate drops have been a joke, esp for certain slots (like shoulders). It's a huge investment in time just to get a functional set of armor for a tank, esp paladins. The problem was never, ever, a lack of classes. It was a lack of gear.
    • True dat. I'm still wearing my Warlord shoulders, with everything else Kara or PvP gear. I'd say the solution is to get to level 80. Not a surprise, considering that the real WoW has always started at max level.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        While I played WoW, that was one of my biggest complaints with the game.

        I'm not paying so that I can grind my way up to max level and "start having fun!"

        I would like to enjoy the time on the way up, thanks... I fail to understand why Blizzard keeps designing their new content with end-game as the sole thing that keeps people interested. I think it's caused a huge problem in how people perceive games now. People don't actually enjoy the process of going through the game, they just think "how can I get to
        • People don't actually enjoy the process of going through the game, they just think "how can I get to the 'end?' How can I get max level?!" and they never remember any fun in between.

          hmm, yeah, you mean how people are having fun levelling up in WAR? Oh wait, everybody is just sitting in the warcamp(s) waiting for scenarios to pop, and PQs and RvR are empty wastelands in T2-T3...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            That's exactly what I'm talking about... in WAR there is plenty of content to experience in between rank 1 and rank 40, but people are picking "the most efficient" route to get to rank 40, and they aren't giving anything in between a shot.

            When people actually try out keep sieges and defending a keep, it is extremely fun! But no one wants to do it because the experience rewards aren't amazing.
            • I am not so sure about how fun it will be, when I read that end game RvR is all small instanced PQs I stopped playing WAR entirely and went back to WoW.

              As much as blizz made some mistakes in wow over the years, I think they are going in the right direction with wotlk, while WAR was shaping up to be pretty interesting (I did buy it after all) but in the end is a big let down for me due to the very very very grind-y feeling and complete lack of community (I wonder who came up with the idea of not having any s

        • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

          I fail to understand why Blizzard keeps designing their new content with end-game as the sole thing that keeps people interested.

          Because they don't. I have two level 70s and the only single piece of purple gear I have is a burning axe that dropped in STV (currently being used by a level 43 Shaman alt).

          I'm a WoW player because Blizzard does keep in mind the more casual player with family, job, etc.

        • To be exact - the trip to 70 is fun the first time around. But by the time I started my second character, the fun was dead. Especially since I was playing on a PvP server, where the Elf lands were nothing more than a horde gank fest.

    • Uhm, purples with green "of defense" shoulders? Hopefully you didn't need that to become uncrittable, otherwise here are some good alternatives : [] - Quest Reward from CoT [] - Drop in Botanica [] - Quest reward in Netherstorm

      Or just do gruul's once a week and pray for the t4 drop.

      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )

        I spoke to tier drops - I had bad luck for a long time, until eventually getting some. As for the warlord shoulders - parry for a paladin tank is bad news. As a paladin tank (at least, prior to today...) you don't actually want to be swinging that often. High parry is a good way to set off procs on bosses. Paladin tanks (prior to today) got almost none of their threat from melee "white" - it was all from spell.

        I think you're missing the point, either way. The point is in the subject line ;) The proble

        • Parrying as a paladin was never the problem, it was *being* parried -- where expertise came in handy to prevent it. Parrying yourself is a *good* thing, as that's more SoR/SoW procs.

          Crafted plate focused more on melee dps and holy paladins, which is, I agree, sad. However that's fixed in WotLK.

          • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
            the more often one swings, the more often one is susceptible to things that the boss does when it gets hit. Better to just let them get hit by consecrate ;)
            • If a boss does something funny when it gets hit, just turn off autoattack and rely on RetAura, Consecrate and Holy Shield for threat. This worked wonders in phase 2 of Prince where he's a parrying beast of a boss. Granted I could use exorcism on every cooldown for extra threat, but you can do the same in Hyjal/BT for the most part.

    • Read the patch notes - paladin spells now scale with attack power.

      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )


        The complaint Blizzard was addressing is that there aren't enough people playing tanks in *BC*. That we can get to 80 now, and have new abilities now, has nothing to do with what the problem *was*.

        There wasn't a lack of people wanting to play tanks...or a lack of tank classes...there was a lack of ways to get gear.

        Of /course/ it will change for WotLK. It's just that when you're trying to solve for a problem, you should address what is actually causing the problem. The problem could have been fixed

    • Fixed in WOTLK, with the talent Touched By The Light: Increase your spell power by 30% of your stamina. And also a lot of others. I was in the same boat with my pally, I did Botanica more than 50 times looking for my starter-shoulders before I just gave up (got the mantle of abhrams from kara). But with the above talent, pally tanks dont have to worry about spell power much at all, and you can just wear warrior gear. And since you can get set pieces from the new heroic badge rewards... should not be ba
      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )

        yes, but in every statement they make about the Deathknight, they say one of the primary design intentions for the class was to address the lack of people playing tanks.

        The point I'm trying to make, obviously unsuccessfully, is that it wasn't a lack of classes, or a lack of people wanting to tank, it was a gear problem.

        Perhaps I'm just trying to apply basic engineering principles to what is just a marketing problem; when solving for a problem, one should ensure that the solution actually addresses, well, th

        • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

          Well, you may be somewhat correct about the gear problem, but lack of gear was by far not the only problem keeping people from playing Tanks. The bigger problem was it simply wasn't fun for most people. No big numbers, and all you really get to do is try to keep your threat high enough on the mob(s) you are tanking. And to make matters worse, tank specs are generally the most boring to do anything solo with. (Yes, even more boring than most heal specs for a lot of players, thanks to the spell dmg on healing

    • Tailoring is definitely OP.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:10PM (#25371113) Journal

    What's the scoop on the new lawsuits Blizzard has planned for '09?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and seeing into Naxx and to the very end of Sunwell, I am looking forward to all 3.

    The downside is for Blizzard though. 4years of WoW has caused my crusade to stop burning. I am not sure WotLK will hold my interest unless it is spectacular (more like PreTBC than TBC). I say downside cause Diablo is free to play online and if I really am burned out, they wont get monthly fees from me for WoW.

    But I honestly hope all 3 hold my interest and being a Mac gamer Blizzard is one of the main developers I can look for

    • The downside is for Blizzard though. 4years of WoW has caused my crusade to stop burning.

      It goes away by itself? Why the hell am I wasting my money on this cream!?

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:15PM (#25371173)

    Are they on crack? I was excited about the game, as everything screamed D2, but better. Better graphics, better skill system, more interactivity, better rune system... but I primarily play D3 with friends, or as a single player. We occasionally can get 6 people together for some Diablo 2 bash fests, and I really don't want to squeeze that over some DSL connection to a far-off server.

    Finally, the entire discussion of "monetizing" by doing something WoW-like, but not going the subscription route is non-sensical. I'm not paying more money for a time-sink, and I have no interest in paying for a matching service.

    Seriously, it seems like someone at Blizzard looked at the WoW revenue, and decided to apply it across the board to all games. To which I can only say - "Fuck off". I can afford one subscription game (the limited resource here being time, not money), and I will not get into another money sink. Free LAN play or bust!

    • I too was sorely disappointed by the lack of LAN play. I basically exclusively play off-line with friends. Rest assured, if there isn't a LAN option we'll be making use of bnetd's successor. And if that's blocked by Blizzard, well, I guess D3 doesn't hold quite as much interest for me.
    • I agree; the reason they're giving for not having LAN play is full of crap. More secure? LAN play has no effect whatsoever on the security of Closed, because nothing you do in one will affect the other. They just want us to play online so they can show us more ads or charge us a subscription fee.

      Blizzard used to be an entertainment company with the emphasis on entertainment, but that's changed now.
      • They are scared that somone will figure out their great 'checks and balances' system. When a user hosts a game it uses the host as a sync for other players key values, such as health, gold etc. This allows them to keep preformance and not rely on memory scanning techniques to keep the hackers at bay. Sadly, many hackers know this and I doubt anyone is interested in hosting a game then instead of playing, spend the next 20 minutes of the game doing nothing while your machine is scanning connection and memory
    • I can afford one subscription game (the limited resource here being time, not money)

      Blizzard should pay attention to this aspect and, should they choose a subscription model anyway, arrange for a single subscription to be usable for all their games (with interlocks to prevent using the same account for two different games at the same time).

    • No kidding, their reasoning (or at least what is in the article) is nonsense. No LAN play because it isn't secure? Sounds like BS. Their intent to monetize is clearly the driving force behind this - they want to make sure you can't escape going through the gateway to play the game. Probably also being used as a form of copy protection - can't have people playing the game without checking into the central servers, now can we.

      The whole Starcraft 2 as three different games smacks of EA's

    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      You didn't see that coming?? For real? I called that the minute I first heard D3 was becoming a reality.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No LAN play means we (wife, kids, and I) probably won't play it. The number one value of this game to us is that it's a small party hack and slash game. I tried to bnet it but honestly it just isn't as much fun for us. We honestly just don't care to deal with the little kids, ninja looting, and bhaal running to max level without playing through the game. Lack of LAN party factor makes this nothing but a d2 clone with overhead iso view and retooled and rehashed crap from the classes we used to like in the pr
      • by Reapy ( 688651 )

        Seriously, very disappointing. You can't even get a "trainer" for yourself and max out characters and run round with your friends/family. I'm all for standard rules you'd use online, but when you are home doing the single player thing, take the reigns off, sheesh.

  • PvE Arenas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @01:15PM (#25371175) Homepage Journal

    One of the other major items to have come out of Blizzcon is the possibility in the near future (post-Wrath-release) of PvE arenas where teams would square off against bosses from instances who would gain or lose ranking just like players and thus harder bosses would match up against better teams.

    No final word yet, and it's still in the idea phase.

  • tldr? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Mr.Ned ( 79679 )

    Great article. I'd like to see more of this on Slashdot.

  • I'm not asking for a specific day necessarily, or even a specific month - just a year and quarter will satisfy me, I'm not picky. That would be awesome.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      significantly off-topic...

      Is there a greater oxymoron in the english language than "Microsoft Works"?

      "Military Intelligence"?
      "Government Efficiency"?
      "Truthful Politicians"?
      "Digital Rights Management"?
      "Customer Satisfaction"?
      "Ford Quality" (ooh, I may upset someone there...)

    • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

      Turn off ad-block on Slashdot. The ads here say 13-November is the release date. It's not exactly a secret ...

  • by greyfeld ( 521548 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @02:52PM (#25372597) Journal
    Don't get me wrong, I loved Diablo and Diablo2. Unfortunately, I had to give up the hardcore playing because clicking the mouse like a maniac for hours killed my hand. Have they done anything to tone down the insane amount of mouse clicks needed to play the game?
  • by ThePyro ( 645161 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:51PM (#25373475)

    the Wizard was designed with a brash and ambitious personality in mind; she would not choose the safe, easy, or common way to do things.

    Ok. Sounds good.

    So, when they were looking at possibilities for the first spell a player would use . . . they chose Magic Missile.

    Yeah, that's definitely not the common way to do things! Way to think outside the box.

    • by borkus ( 179118 )

      Yeah, that's definitely not the common way to do things! Way to think outside the box.

      Oooh, is the next spell Burning Hands?

    • by Reapy ( 688651 )

      Seriously. D3 is like, action wow. Which is cool, I love wow's classes a lot. They just need to stop blowing themselves and just go ahead and say they are using WOW's talent tree style. Wow's class style, and WOW's glyph system *cough* I mean rune system.

      It's cool guys, don't worry. It looks like they are tanking the "OMG BALANCE" out of the wow trees and letting us fuck shit up with the same abilities. Cool, make me more eager for the game. If I actually had friends I would probably be pissed at the lack

  • That is a hell of a wall of text. Why don't we see this kind of in-depth coverage for more technical topics?
    • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

      This was "stuff that matters" - a lot more than the latest Microsoft announcement or most recent Linux kernel version.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.